Bin Laden Raid accidently exposed super-secret Stealth Helicopter?

The day after the raid that supposedly killed Bin Laden, Reuters bought this photograph from a Pakistani soldier or policeman.  The official story put out by the US Government is that one of the helicopters involved in the raid lost lift capability sometime during the mission and the SEAL team on the ground had to demo it in place.  Here is some preliminary information about the above photograph:

1. The above appears to show the tail boom and rear rotor of a helicopter.  Having flown with Special Operations aviation, I can say that I have never, ever seen anything that looks like this.

2. Associated Press reported today that 160th Special Operations Aviation was involved in the raid.

3. There is some speculation that the above is representative of a stealth upgrade kit put onto a MH-60 helicopter.

Photo 2:

Here is a photo that appears to show the other half of the wreckage on the other side of the wall.  I got this one off Aviation Weekly’s website.  Someone posted this in the comments section, attempting to point out that the rotor blade (the main rotor in this case) parts resemble that of a UH/MH-60 helicopter.

Hypothesis:

The above photos show a previously undisclosed Special Access Project.  The helicopter is a highly modified and upgraded MH-60 helicopter that includes stealth characteristics.  The pilots may be drawn from 160th Special Operations Aviation and organized into a highly compartmentalized sub-unit.  There is also the possibility that this aircraft is flown by retired pilots working through a corporate cut-out.  Corporate propriety would provide yet another layer of secrecy, including from Congressional oversight.

This is an initial assessment and the verdict is still very much out on this one.

*Update 1

New pic of the tail section:

BuzzFeed Pictorial of wreckage/Pakistanis carting the tail section away

Concept sketch done by David Cenciotti.  Top is the stealth helicopter modification concept with the conventional MH-60 below.  Check out the Gizmodo article about it.

“Initial plans called for the low-observable Black Hawks to be formed into a new unit commanded by a lieutenant colonel and located at a military facility in Nevada, the retired special operations aviator said. “The intent was always to move it out west where it could be kept in a covered capability,” he said.  USSOCOM planned to assign about 35 to 50 personnel to the unit, the retired special operations aviator said. “There were going to be four [low-observable] aircraft, they were going to have a couple of ‘slick’ unmodified Black Hawks, and that was going to be their job was to fly the low-observables.”

SOCOM canceled those plans “within the last two years,” but not before at least some of the low-observable helicopters had been delivered to the Nevada facility, the retired aviator said. “I don’t know if it was for money or if it was because the technology was not achieving the reduction in the radar cross-section that they were hoping for,” he said. In the meantime, MH-60 Black Hawk crews from the 160th’s 1st Battalion, headquartered at Fort Campbell, Ky., would rotate to Nevada to train on the stealthy aircraft, he said.”  –From the Army Times

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Filed under Afghanistan, News, Pictures, Special Forces

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